Handover and Move In – Day 281

** Apologies for the delay getting this important milestone post online. We’ve been busy unpacking and setting up the new house – I’ve neglected the website **


993 days after we sold our home in Point Cook finally we’ve moved into out new home in Torquay!

After a brief final inspection with our Site Supervisor we went into the GJ Gardner Geelong office for handover and collected the keys. After that it was all stations go as we started unpacking the first container and moving items into the house. A big thanks to David and Kane for helping with the moving process.

I’ve put some photo below and will upload more when we’ve unpacked and set-up all the rooms.

If you’d like to visit just drop us a line. We’ve got plenty of space so you can stay for the weekend and enjoy Torquay and the surf coast region.

Cheers – Shaun, Jill, Riley & Darcy.





Walkthrough Day – Day 260

The site supervisor had already carried out his own review and the painters and plasterers had performed a series of touch-ups in preparation for our walkthrough. Overall the review went well, the house looks great and we can’t wait to move in.

However, between us and the builder we identified further areas that require additional touch-ups. For the most part, nothing too serious, just a bit of additional gap filling, sanding and painting required. On the larger scale the WIR cabinets in the master bedroom didn’t match the dimensions on the plan so they’ll need to be replaced and the extreme weather over the past few days uncovered a leak in some of the flashing that introduced an unplanned water feature in Riley’s bedroom.

So, instead of a weeks worth of finishing it’ll probably be closer to 2 weeks. That includes the install of kitchen appliances and some of the electrical fittings. So close, but not yet.

Rather than share some photos of the almost finished house I thought I’d post some photos of our current temporary accommodation. It’s more beach shack that beach house but we know it’s a temporary stop-over before we move into our dream home.

Not long now…

Modern stove and oven

Walk in pantry

The laundry

The main bathroom with step in shower/bath combo

Water saving showerhead

Hardcore door handles

Creative electrical work

Feature light in the lounge with timber lined walls and ceiling


Site Cut – Day 1 – August 24, 2017

1 year, 11 months and 14 days (714 days) after we placed the sold sticker on our previous home we’ve finally started construction on our new home in Torquay.

Site cut was carried out on the block today in preparation for sewer connection and slab preparation.

It hasn’t changed the view much (it’s still an empty block) but it means a lot to see some activity that’s a part of the overall construction process.

The first of many photos from directly across the road

The block was already relatively level so not much earth-moving was required.

Final Approval and Plan Submission – August 11, 2017

The word ‘final’ gets used a lot when preparing to build a house.

This is the final draft of plans.

This is the final variation.

This is the final decision on paint colours.

While you continue to tell yourself that you’re finished ‘tweaking’ the design and the last round of documents signed are indeed the final documents there’s always some more ‘final steps’ to be carried out the following week. Well, apparently this week we’ve reached the final steps in client approval. We signed all of the construction documentation so that it can be submitted to council and subject to approval, these documents will be used by the various tradies involved to build our new home.

Next steps are as follows:

  • Plan submitted to council for building permit approval (estimated 2 weeks)
  • Builder starts onsite (after council approval is given the builder will be onsite within 14 working days – 3 weeks)
    • Level the site
    • Start preparing for slab foundations

With August now flying past it’s looking more like an September start.

Latest odds for construction start


Further changes in the betting this week.

  • August Start: 50-1
  • September Start: 2-1 fav
  • October Start: 50-1

Sorry for the punters who loaded up on the August start. You should have made a bet when I was offering 150-1 for September. As I’ve said before, everything takes longer than expected…

Full Speed Ahead! – 21 May, 2017

Go Sign

After receiving disappointing news last week that our block had been submitted (but was now on the waiting list) at the titles office I was surprised to receive a call from our conveyancer during the week advising that we now had title and settlement would be occurring in 14 days! What the?

I’m not sure about the specifics but it would seem the vendors/agent expedited the process so instead of 19 days waiting + 2-5 weeks of processing time it all happened in the space of just over a week. Excellent news after waiting so long however it now puts pressure on getting our finance approved prior to the settlement date of June 1st.

On Friday we signed the building contract, signed the land transfer documents and passed everything back to our mortgage broker and conveyancer to weave their magic.

So, once again the  odds change…



Revised odds for construction start


  • June Start: 30-1
  • July Start: 2-1 fav
  • August Start: 12-1
  • September Start: 100-1

Weekly update – 30 April, 2017

Last week we reviewed our draft construction drawings and provided more feedback to our builder. No major queries, just clarifying placement of cabinetry and powerpoints as we move towards a final set of construction drawings

Our soil test is going to be carried out this week which should allow the builder to finalise site costs.


Although the civil works are now complete we’ve still got plenty of documentation to be completed before we see building activity onsite. Our builder provided the following guide to ‘next steps’.

  • Soils and survey received – builder will price the site costs and add this information to our plans to ensure the design we have complies with all Rescode regulations. Contracts can also be prepared and signed at this stage.
  • PSI (Property Service Reports) are received approximately 2 weeks after the land titles – this includes information the builder needs relating to the stormwater etc.
  • All variations are signed off on and Final amendments are made to plans.
  • Engineering is ordered, final documents are prepared (i.e specification, colour template, colour mark ups) and signed.
  • Proof of ownership of land is to be supplied in the form of a letter from Solicitor/Conveyancer confirming settlement has taken place.
  • Once all documentation is signed and finalised, we pay the balance of the builder deposit
  • Once those monies are cleared in to our account the builder will apply for a building permit. Usually building permits take 2 weeks but there can be unexpected delays.
  • Building permit, stamped plans and all insurances are presented to use for finance .
  • Confirmation is required from lender that funds are available for draw down – for this to happen generally mortgage documents are signed, valuation has taken place and the loan has settled.
  • Hand over to construction – from this point we will have site presence within 14 working days.

While some of these things can happen simultaneously other have a strict sequence and step 3 can’t be started until step 2 is completed. When combined it might be anywhere from a month, through to 3 months before construction starts.

Latest odds for construction start

bookies bag

  • May Start: 100-1
  • June Start: 12-1
  • July Start: 2-1 fav
  • August Start: 20-1
  • September Start: 150-1

Civil works update – March 31, 2017

There was an air of anticipation as we drove to Torquay for our regular Friday afternoon check-in. Progress has been solid over the proceeding weeks and bitumen had already been laid in the other roads of our release. It was time for Wagtail Avenue to join the club.

As we approached our street it was clear that other work had been carried out. Soil had been spread and the general area was looking more construction ready. Finally it was there – bitumen!


At last! The view of fresh bitumen greeted us on Friday afternoon.


The large berm of soil at the front of the stage has been spread across the house lots. Almost ready for building.

Everything looked great until I spotted a large green box at the back of the stage release, located approximately where our house would be built. With fences in place to limit pedestrian access I couldn’t be sure what it was or exactly where it was located however I had my suspicions.

It looked like an electricity transformer, the kind used in new land developments (electricity supply is underground). It was clearly on our side of the road, it was just a matter of how far back it was located.


This is also a transformer. Unfortunately the one located at the front of our block isn’t as impressive as Optimus Prime.

After much swearing and head shaking I decided to skip past the fences and go on a scouting mission. I wanted to view our block close-up and confirm the location of the mystery green object.

Unfortunately on closer inspection it was a large green transformer and it was located in front of our house block.


Looking directly at our block (other side of road). Concrete crossover (driveway) on the right of our block, transformer on the left .

I paced out the dimensions of our block and it seems as though the box sits half on our block, the other half on the neighbouring block.

Is the green box required? Yes.

Do I think the green box is attractive? No.

Do I want the green box sitting at the front of my house? No.

At no stage were we made aware of anything like this being located on our frontage. I understand it needs to be located somewhere however I don’t think anyone would be happy purchasing a house block and discovering this added ‘extra’ is included – it’s not a welcome surprise.


Disappointment wrapped in green.

We drove around the surrounding streets and found a few other examples of transformers sitting at the front of houses. Some people put fences around them, others leave them open. I suspect there are rules about what you can and can’t locate near the box to ensure access is provided to technicians.

The negatives?

  • The green box is ugly and detracts from the kerbside appeal of your home
  • You can’t grow/build anything too close to the box as it would hinder access, you thereby ‘lose’ some of your land.

An example of a transformer in front of houses in earlier stage release. The transformer sits between the frontage of two properties – the transformer in Wagtail Avenue will do the same.

At this stage I’m just disappointed. We placed a deposit on this land in November last year (2016) and have waited patiently for the civil works to be completed before we can start building. Now, just as we’re approaching the start line we discover that our frontage will be shared by an ugly green box. Will we see it when we’re in the house? No. Will we see it when we’re at the beach? No. Will new visitors to our home comment on it? Probably. Will it impact on the kerbside appeal of our home? Yes.

I liken it to a birthmark or scar that someone is always asked about. An individual can’t do anything about a birthmark or scar, it’s something they learn to live with. The difference is, they have no choice – it’s a part of who they are. We have a choice. We haven’t started building yet and we haven’t settled on the land.

The downside is, there’s limited land in the area, particularly larger blocks at a reasonable price and I’m not keen on watching civil construction for another 12 months. I’m keen to move on to the next stage of our life.

So, what do we do now? Ponder. Look around for other blocks. Look for existing houses in our price range. Speak with family and friends.

The cost of our block and proposed construction is significant, easily our largest purchase ever and one that we need to feel comfortable with. If we don’t feel it’s right, we shouldn’t proceed.

To be continued…

Civil works update – March 10, 2017

Unfortunately the bitumen didn’t arrive this week however the road base has increased in height. Last week there was a few inches between the bottom of the gutter and the road surface, today it’s almost level. Sounds ridiculous really but when you’re looking for progress every little bit gets noticed. Another small step closer to seeing a smooth bitumen surface.

Can you imagine the excitement when the builder starts working on our block?


More rolling…

A brief history of Wagtail Avenue.

Civil Works - 20 October 2016

October 20, 2016


End November, 2016

Feb 10 civil works

February 10, 2017

190217 Civil Works Update

February 19, 2017


February 24, 2017


Mark 5, 2017

Progress on the civil works front

One of the challenges we encountered early in our journey was securing a suitable block to build our new home. As often happens it was only when we’d stopping searching that something came along. From there, things have moved slowly…

We found the block in November 2015, signed the contract of sale in March 2016 and initial indications were that the civil works would be completed and title would be available to start construction in August 2016. Months went by and August came and went without any sign of soil being turned on the site.

Other works were being carried out elsewhere in the broader development site that impacted on our block, i.e. storm water drainage however it was depressing to visit on weekends and see no discernible progress.

Another follow-up email to the agent and we received a revised timeline – late February. At this stage I was pretty sceptical however a visit to the site a few weeks ago showed there was activity. Thanks to the team from Lake & Land earth was being moved, trenches were being dug and pipes being laid. There was actual progress on the street our house would be built!

Excited dog

The sight of earth-moving activity had us as excited as a dog with two tails.

Check back to see more dirt mounts in the coming weeks. Eventually we should see concrete curbs, roads and street lights taking shape as we inch closer to construction.

Civil Works - 20 October 2016

While this photo might just look like a bunch of dirt mounds it’s very exciting to see activity in our stage release.

We might have found some land

After a few months of inspecting existing homes and blocks of land for sale we’ve placed a holding deposit on a lot located within the Dunes Estate in Torquay. After a bit of snooping around we found the development plan of the estate on the Surf Coast Shire website. This shows the scope of the estate – our block is located on the eastern side (right of map), around the middle.

Our chosen block is close to an existing sports oval and a proposed new primary school with the beach only a leisurely 1km walk away. Not a bad spot to spend the next stage of our life together.

We were originally looking for blocks closer to 600 m2 however these seem to be rarer than hens teeth * so when we spotted a block available in a good location that was a little over 500 m2 we thought we’d go for it. If we find something better or change our mind we can cancel our hold and reclaim the deposit. So, it’s worth exploring and we’ll see what unfolds from here.

Apparently hens teeth are quite rare.

* Apparently hens teeth are quite rare.

Eight blocks went on sale in the Zeally Sands Estate just over the road from our block and people were camping out for up to 2 days! We’re not about to start camping out for land so when the opportunity arose, we grabbed it.

The blocks within the Dunes Estate seem expensive compared to other blocks in the area but demand is strong in Torquay North and I don’t forsee prices dropping any time soon. Either way, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (this post seems to contain a lot of bird related references).

From here we’ll start digging deeper into the specifics of costs associated with building on this block

  • Will the home design we’ve selected meet the estate design guidelines?
  • What other site costs are associated with the block?
    • Developer
    • Council
    • Others

The Dune Estate has a couple of other bonus features:

  • It’s NBN ready meaning we can connect up to super fast Internet.
  • It has access to Class A recycled water meaning you can water gardens all year round, free from water restrictions.